There aren’t many athletes in this world who openly show their fellow teammates and fans how much they adore their mom—scratch that, family as a whole.
But when it came to the big decision on where to play post secondary ball, Diego Maffia followed his heart to stay at home.
“I feel relieved and all the stress is gone. Also happy that I could finally make a good decision with my family,” said Diego about the commitment.
“[UVic is] a great university in a great city that offers the degree I want to take. I am familiar with the environment. My friends and family can watch me play, I can train year round, and I’m comfortable with the coaching staff.”
The former star of the Oak Bay Bays had the season of a lifetime this past year, smashing single-game point records by scoring a whopping 96 points at the Western Canada Basketball Tournament back in February. On average, he put up at least 30+ PPG throughout 2018/2019, and even scored 51 points recently at the BC 4A Boys Provincials held at the Langley Events Centre at the beginning of March.
To add to Diego’s amazing list of accomplishments, he was named the 2019 Male Athlete of the Year, too. And in his ever-so-humble nature, the first person he thanked when he accepted his award was his mother, Wendy Maffia.
With a commendably modest personality, the future Vike says he’s excited to stay local and get to know the UVic team better, as well. While he hopes to continue his success on the court as a Vike, Diego plans to soar even higher than the Vancouver Island baller life.
“Home games should be very fun and my goal is to play in the Canada West playoffs and the National Championship.”
Vike’s head coach Craig Beaucamp says Diego already knows and understands the players, making him the perfect addition to the team.
“We are extremely pleased that the best high school player in the province has chosen the University of Victoria. The fact that he is from Victoria makes it even more special,” Beaucamp said. “Student athletes have many opportunities these days and the fact that Diego has chosen to stay home is very rewarding.”
It’s no surprise Diego decided to stay close to home.
Over the past two years I’ve spent covering the Oak Bay star, he has shown us the importance of family. And his mom has rarely missed a moment of play.
When Diego hit the game-winning, buzzer-beater trey at the 2019 Legal Beagle tournament against the home team Terry Fox Ravens, Mama Maffia was there with open arms to embrace her emotionally charged son directly after the game.
She was there through countless tournaments, and if by chance she physically was not present, she, of course, was watching online.
“I can’t put into words how happy I am that he will be close enough for me to watch a good portion of his games,” she said. “I think my heart wasn’t quite ready for him to move far away from me. I haven’t missed watching many of his games since he’s started playing, so it’s very special that I get another 5 years to cheer him on in our home town!”
Wendy says Diego has worked incredibly hard to get to where he is today and more than anything she’s excited to see him play at an elite level.
“The reason we moved to Canada was to provide better opportunities for the boys for post-secondary. So to see that happening is really a dream come true and makes all the sacrifices we have made over the past three and half years totally worth it.”
Diego’s father, Carlos Maffia, still resides in their hometown of Brazil. Though the family has spent some time and distance apart, Diego’s accomplishments have allowed for the family to celebrate each other in a unique way through the sport of basketball.
“It feels fantastic,” Carlos said about Diego committing to UVic. “We have always supported and followed our children in everything they do and knowing that his mother and brother will be right there to do that for another 5 years makes me very happy.”
Diego says it has been hard without his dad around at times, but the thought of seeing him in the stands at UVic “would mean a lot”.
Even baby brother Lucas says he’s looking forward to watching his bro play university ball.
“It means a lot that he is going to stay in Victoria because he is my big brother and I’m happy that I get to live with him for at least another year—even though I wish I would’ve got my own bedroom.
“And it is good to know that if I ever need him, he will be close by to help me and maybe I can even still play with him every once in a while whenever he has time.”
Lucky for the whole Maffia family, they won’t have to adjust their eyesight much on the court, as Diego will be reppin’ his familiar # 6 jersey as a Vike, too.
“It’s pretty special. I’ve been wearing # 6 since I first started playing basketball and I’ve been lucky to wear it every season on every team I’ve played with,” he said when asked what the number means to him. “Exciting I can continue wearing that jersey.”
As one jersey is hung up forever, another will represent a new chapter in Diego’s life. A chapter that will continue to be filled with standout moments both on-and-off the court.
Moments that will allow for his family to watch from the stands with undeniable love and support in their eyes, as always.
It’s a beautiful thing to see: a die-hard, basketball mom sitting amongst the crowds—however big or small they may be—pencil and clipboard in hand, dutifully keeping score of the game and carefully marking every 3-pointer.
Wendy is more than just a proud mother though, she’s an inspiration.
Her advice to Diego on this new journey was sweet and simple (and may have even brought a tear to this reporter's eyes):
“Enjoy every minute of the journey; take chances, make mistakes (but learn from them), laugh (a lot), cry, and love; to surround himself with great friends and be a great friend back.
Most importantly to never change who he is, to continue being the dedicated student athlete and fierce competitor he is today, without forgetting to always be a good teammate and to be a good example by always being a humble and kind person.”
Thanks to the sport of basketball, Wendy and Carlos fell in love at university and the two Maffia MonStars—in Diego and Lucas—were born.
The rest is basically history.
“Never give up no matter what life throws at you,” Diego’s dad said when asked what advice he had for his oldest son heading off to university.
“Work hard every day for what you want…[and] always believe in yourself.”
We all believe in you, too, Diego!
Congratulations to Diego Maffia on committing to the University of Victoria. We look forward to seeing you rock the # 6 as a Vike.
Keep breaking records (and staying humble while doing so).
Written by: Crystal Scuor